NOVEMBER 16, 2005- AWHUM: LUKE 19:11-28

WHOEVER HAS WILL BE GIVEN MORE. BUT THE ONE WHO HAS NOT WILL LOSE THE LITTLE HE HAS. There is much injustice in the affairs of this world. Human experience and the study of history reveal to us that some persons have many advantages of wealth, intelligence, education and opportunity for further success and growth. St Gertrude, whose feat we celebrate today, is an instance of one such gifted person from her early youth. She displayed great generosity of spirit in making use of her advantages at al stages of her life. We are fortunate to have the results of her fidelity in the form of her writings and the example of her life as has been recorded for us.

At the same time, others, lacking in each of these areas, are burdened and possess but few resources that allow them to advance their condition. Our Lord, in this parable of the talents, accepts this as a fact of life without commenting on it. And so he ends this parable with the noble, rich man telling his servants to take away from the servant with but one talent even the single one he had. Of course, the point our Lord wishes to get across in this story is that no matter how limited are our resources we must have the energy and courage to make full use of them in the service of God or even the little we do possess will be taken from us when the time for reckoning arrives. He also asserts that those who make good use of their gifts, wisely and courageously employing them in useful ways, will be rewarded handsomely. We are answerable, each of us, to our Lord and King who endows us with such talents as we might possess.

St. Paul addresses the fact that there are different gifts accorded to members of the community. Some of these are of a higher order than others, he teaches, but each has its value and each is rewarded when put to use for the good of the Church. In another passage our Lord reveals that it is commonly those who are considered less significant, less gifted, who nonetheless turn out to be the most acceptable in Godís eyes. "I give you thanks, Father, Lord of heaven and earth", he prayed, "for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever, you have revealed to the little ones. (Mt. 11:25)" All of us here have been given various gifts by nature in Godís Providence. In the monastery as in the Church as a whole, it is important that there be a close, friendly collaboration among brothers as they employ their various talents in the service of Godís cause. Let us make it our business to do all in our power to assist our brothers and sisters whatever be their station and capacity, so that together we might give praise and glory to God the more fruitfully.

We have a certain power as persons to enable others to bring out their best self. That is part of the mystery of human relations and cultivating that power is one of the highest forms of charity We can learn to be more understanding, more thoughtful and considerate of others, but only if we make the effort to do so. The Cistercian life is a community life, so is the Christian life as a whole. St Bernard understood well that the path to holiness for his monks was to strive for the common good, thus overcoming out tendency to be selfish and ambitious to surpass others without regard for their welfare. Obedience, respect for the superior as the representative of Christ is an important, even essential way for the monk to learn to grow less self-centered. Instead of criticizing and murmuring and working against the superior- which are ways that are destructive and lead to hell- the monk is to assist the superior by making up for his weaknesses. This same attitude, Benedict tells us in his rule, should carry over into our relations with one another. Then we shall hear our Lord at the end saying "Well done, good and faithful servant. Receive the reward laid up for you from the beginning of the world."


Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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